Boise State has won two straight, scoring a total of 87 points in those contests. The Broncos are looking to keep pace with Utah State in the MW Mountain Division. A loss would all but end the conference championship hopes of the Broncos.
Air Force comes into the game looking to play the role of spoiler. This season has not gone the way head coach Troy Calhoun would have liked, as his squad sits at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Mountain West Conference play.
Boise State at Air Force
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Boise State -9.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Boise State establish a rushing attack?
The Broncos have not been great when it comes to moving the ball on the ground. They average just 159.1 yards per game — good for 80th in the country. Meanwhile, Air Force is among the best teams in the country when it comes to run defense. The Falcons are allowing only 106.6 yards per contest, good for 13th nationally. Sure, Boise State's success is largely dependent on the passing attack, but if the Broncos can't establish some semblance of a rushing attack in a hostile environment early on, it could spell trouble.
2. Air Force's time of possession
The Falcons do have the ability to move the ball well, especially on the ground. Ideally, they want the game to be a low-scoring affair and avoid a shootout with Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien and the Broncos' offense. To do that, they need to move the chains consistently on offense and keep the Broncos offense on the sidelines. We'll know how this is going to play out early. If Air Force can sustain a couple of long drives early — even without scoring — we'll have a game on our hands. If Boise State forces a couple of early 3-and-outs, it'll be a long night for Troy Calhoun's squad.
3. Can Air Force keep A.J. Richardson in check?
As previously mentioned, Boise State lives and dies with its passing game. Richardson is Rypien's most dangerous target, averaging 17.6 yards per reception. If Air Force can defend Richardson in a manner that limits those chunk plays between the 20s, it will go a long way in shortening this ball game and keeping the Falcons within striking distance.
Falcon Stadium is not an easy place to play, and the Air Force defense is better than the team's win-loss record would indicate. Both of those factors will come into play as far as determining how this one shakes out. The over/under is 64 in this one. I'm leaning towards the under. I see Air Force eating up enough clock on the ground on offense and making the Broncos one-dimensional when Boise State has the ball. Look for a back-and-forth struggle all night long, with the difference ultimately being one big play late in the game from Boise State running back Alexander Mattison after an otherwise quiet night from him.
Prediction: Boise State 30, Air Force 23
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Top photo courtesy of Boise State University)